Want to break free from Facebook Business Manager?

Warning light stop sign

A few weeks ago I made the mistake of clicking on an email Facebook sent me asking me to sign up to Facebook Business Manager.

I didn’t entirely know what it was but there was some vague threat made that if I didn’t change my account within the next few days I’d lose any previous data about advertising campaigns.

So I clicked it and did what Facebook told me to do – added all my pages and linked it to my personal (actually my work profile) Facebook account.

Big mistake. It turned out that Facebook Business Manager just added several additional, infuriating steps to my day to day Facebook experience.

Using my work profile, I have liked lots of pages that are likely to contain content relevant to any of the Facebook pages I manage for my organisation. Several times a day I’ll scroll through my newsfeed, liking and sharing posts on the relevant pages, as the relevant pages. This was dead easy – I’d just click ‘share’, select from a drop down menu which page I wanted to share it on, and as, and hey presto, done.

Similarly, I could easily switch between Facebook pages by choosing from a drop down menu at the top right of the page. Easy.

Once I’d signed up to Facebook Business Manager though, the pages I added disappeared from the drop down menu. To use Facebook as a page, I had to go to the page, click ‘Mange using Facebook business manager’, be taken to the Facebook Business Manager page, click back onto my page and then click confirm to say that I wanted to use Facebook as my page. Epic.

Then, if I wanted to browse my personal (work) newsfeed and like or share posts onto a page I managed, I could only select whichever page I had most recently used Facebook as. So to share relevant content to another page I’d need to go to that page, go through the process outlined above, then search for the content I’d wanted to share by going to that page’s newsfeed and searching through for it, or go directly to the page with the content I wanted. Not an easy and quick process and most of the time by the time I’d gone through all the steps I’d forgotten what it was I wanted to share!

Worst of all there didn’t seem to be an obvious way to ‘uninstall’ Facebook Business Manager, and I was a bit scared I’d ruined Facebook forever!

Imagine my relief to come across this post about how to get rid of Facebook Manager, which also reinforced the way I felt about the experience of trying to navigate the thing.

It seems the main problem Facebook Business Manager is trying to solve is not having to share log in details for pages with lots of people when there are is a team managing them. However a much better way to achieve this is how we already do it – have professional ‘personal’ Facebook accounts, which are given admin rights to Facebook pages. No shared log in required.

So, if you find yourself sucked into Facebook Business Manager and want out, here’s how you do it:

1. Create a dummy page (choose the ‘create a page’ option from within Facebook Business Manager for speed) and make this your ‘primary page’ ( to do this, go to info, settings, and hover over the pencil to change your choice).

2. Go back to the list of pages on Business Manager and go through them all, removing them from Business Manager, leaving only your dummy page (you can’t remove your dummy page from Facebook Manager, hence why you needed to make a dummy page).

3. Go onto Facebook and delete your dummy page. You are now FREE of Facebook Business Manager!  And your precious drop-down menu of pages you manage will reappear!

4. Have a celebratory cuppa and breathe a sigh of relief!

Anyone else tried out Facebook Business Manager? What did you think?

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Have we really forgotten how to ‘chat’ on Twitter?

Man checks black Iphone sitting at table with laptop

Last week, Paul Stallard asked this question on his blog: Why don’t you ask questions on Twitter anymore?

It’s really resonated with me and yes, I agree, there is a definite change on Twitter in the last year or so – there is more broadcasting and less genuine conversation.

I first got hooked on Twitter about five years back, when I was expecting my second child. It was a great place to chat with other mums and mums-to-be, ask questions, offer or ask for reassurance, share experiences , or just find somebody to talk to during a 3am night feed!

I use Twitter very differently now, largely as a professional tool, and as a way of getting to know other comms professionals, learning from them and hopefully giving something of myself back. And of course it is now a massive part of what I do for a living.

I still love Twitter, it’s my first choice social network and almost every time I skim through my newsfeed (which is many times a day) I’ll find something interesting, amusing or useful. I’m forever favouriting links to blog posts or articles that I want to keep or read later.

But Paul’s right, there are a lot less questions, and a lot less genuine conversation.

I love talking to people on Twitter, and I love Twitter chats, because they are a chance to indulge in a bit of real time conversation with some fascinating people from across the world.

And since reading Paul’s post I’ve decided to take a proactive approach and post a few more questions myself – and also try to provide answers to any questions that I see (if I think I have something valuable to add, of course!)

And for those accounts we manage for our organisations, perhaps a few more questions (and answers) might just encourage a little more of the  precious engagement that we’re always seeking.

Maybe we should all try it, and bring back some of that early Twitter spirit to our timelines?

What do you think?

WhatsApp experiment shows we mustn’t be afraid to ‘fail’

A little while back I blogged about what I thought was quite an exciting trial that Shropshire Council were running, allowing residents to contact the council (and specific elected members) via WhatsApp.

It struck me as a brilliantly simple idea and I was really interested to see how their trial worked out.

The other day I did a little bit of twitter stalking to see if there was any news about the results – sure enough Lorna Perry, who was behind the trial at Shropshire, recently posted an update about how it went.

The results were – as Lorna says – a little disappointing, and a bit surprising really, I thought. Despite lots of publicity , the council leader only received eight messages during the four week trial, and the general enquiry number only seven.

Lorna puts that down partly to a certain amount of apathy in terms of contacting local councillors – and I suppose that has a part to play. Perhaps, as Lorna suggests, if the trial had taken place during a period when there was something particularly controversial going on in the area – am unpopular planning issue or something of that nature – then the uptake might have been higher – mind you perhaps the councillors who took part wouldn’t have been so keen to receive the kinds of messages that might have arrived on their mobiles!

However you’ve really got to admire the attitude that Shropshire – and it’s elected members – took on this one – a kind of “let’s just do it and see how it goes” attitude. It wasn’t going to cost anything and it might just have worked – they made it clear from the outset that if it didn’t work, it didn’t matter – no unrealistic expectations were raised, internally or externally. They kept it simple and didn’t invest either extortionate amounts of time or money on it – so they could afford to be bold and there was no major drama if it didn’t work out.

In these fast changing and austere times councils shouldn’t be afraid of trying something new – without making a huge industry out of deliberating the pros and cons – and if it doesn’t work out, be happy to say so and move on to try something new. What’s important is that we think, and act, innovatively.

Lorna does mention in her post that some of the other council services – such as those who work with parents and young people – are still interested in exploring the possibility of utilising WhatsApp, so the idea isn’t dead yet.

Well done Shropshire for trying something new. I wonder if any other councils will also give it a go – maybe to take feedback on very specific projects or proposals perhaps – and whether any will have more luck in doing so?

Customer service – so much more than ‘just’ social media

An advert for EE popped into my Facebook feed the other day.

It annoyed me, because EE and I are in dispute.

And it got me thinking about the importance of customer service and consistency of brand, tone of voice and attitude each and every time it interacts with customers.

After upgrading to EE from Orange a few months back, my husband and I had weeks and weeks of problems, ranging from the wrong phones being delivered, broken phones, phone numbers not transferring across, then transferring across to the wrong phones… a long, boring and infuriating experience. I made many, many calls to their customer services, each time there was much tutting at their end (once even swearing) and blaming of the last person, new promises made that this new approach would fix the problem “within five working days” – inevitably that not being the case and the whole cycle repeating again… for weeks and weeks.

Even now, if my husband and I are in a room together, and somebody calls me, his phone will ring too, and vice versa. In fact my old phone, which the kids now use, will also ring if it’s not on aeroplane mode (which is usually is). But I’ve decided just to live with it, because I can’t face dealing with the company again and I’ve got no faith that they would be able to fix it, anyway.

After each of the calls I made to EE, they sent me an auto-text asking me to tell them how satisfied I was, from 1-10. After my final call, I decided to take their text survey. A lot of ‘0’s were involved. The final text asked me if I had anything else I wanted to add. I did. But they never tried to contact me to resolve the problem, and they never apologised.

I also went to the trouble of emailing EE, outlining the problems I’d had and how angry & frustrated I was. I never got a response.

The last time I spoke to a person at EE, it was because they billed me twice in error, and even though they said they had cancelled one of the bills, they took both amounts out of my account.  The man on the phone basically just laughed when  tried to explain how upset I was and said I could contact my bank and refuse the payment. I did that but I was concerned that this would register as an non payment, so asked the man in customer services to call me back when he had amended the records to show that the amount was no due. He promised to, but he never called me back.

During all this, I also tweeted my frustration with EE. A couple of days later I got a tweet back, offering to help. But the help amounted to nothing more than referring me back to customer services. Thanks.

So when the ad for EE popped up in my Facebook newsfeed the other day, I clicked on comments and saw a lot of other people sharing their own bad experiences with EE – so I gave into temptation and added my own. (Ooh, that felt good.)

A day or two later, I got a reply. “Sorry to hear that Gemma, if you’d like to PM us we can look into it for you”.

Sadly, this willingness to help is too little, too late. The damage is done and they will never get my custom again.

I believe that social media is a vital part of customer service for any organisation or brand. But if the experiences you have in every other dealing with a company are so negative, you could have the best social media team in the world and they couldn’t turn that around.

And far from creating brand advocates, if you’re not careful you’re creating the exact opposite – people who will go out of their way to warn friends and family not to use your company and who will delight in retelling negative stories. This is the ‘Trip Advisor generation’, after all.

So, good luck to EE’s social team. But no matter what they try to do to engage with customers online won’t be worth a carrot if the rest of the company isn’t trying to do the same.

 

A cautionary tale

This really interesting article from The Guardian was doing the rounds on social media this weekend: ‘Overnight, everything I loved was gone’: the internet shaming of Lindsey Stone.

It demonstrates how easily your internet life can be hijacked, sometimes after a single tweet posted by you or others, and how that can have potentially disastrous repercussions for your offline life.

If I were a teacher or parent of teenagers, I’d urge them to read this article. In fact I’m sure we all could benefit from taking a moment to consider what lessons we can learn from this. The fact is that the throwaway comments or ‘in jokes’ you might safely share with people you know offline can take a whole new meaning when typed out and shared with the world online. We’re all human, we all make mistakes. But the internet can be a very unforgiving place.

It also reiterates the importance of brand building, not just for companies, but for people too. And once you’ve built that brand, you need to look after and protect it. As the article sadly demonstrates, sometimes your reputation can be rubbished online in a very short space of time, and through no fault of your own. But there are also plenty of silly mistakes you can learn to avoid.

I was fascinated to read about how Lindsey Stone was being helped to repair her online reputation with the aid of content creation, designed to fool search engines into pushing the results about her earlier misdemeanour further down the rankings. And it worked – but it requires an ongoing concerted effort with content being churned out to keep repressing those stories from two years ago.

None of us wants to be in the position that Lindsey finds herself in, and I hope that she is able to genuinely move on and stop living in fear of one past mistake constantly resurfacing. For her sake and for all those other women who share her name!

But certainly I would urge you to read this article, and bear in mind what lessons we – both as individuals and as guardians of brands online –  need to learn.

More changes to Facebook newsfeed

On Friday, Facebook announced more changes to the way in which it selects which of a Page’s posts will appear in the newsfeeds of those who’ve ‘liked’ it.

Facebook say the changes are designed to reduce the amount of promotional posts in users’ newsfeeds, and instead encourage pages to produce more engaging content.

These are the two examples of the kinds of status updates which will, from January 2015, see a much reduced organic reach on Facebook:

Example post1

Example post 2

Encouraging quality content in itself is no bad thing – organisations and brands should already be striving to do this.

And while this change is probably not as alarming to public sector pages as to those companies whose main purpose is selling products or services – it should be taken as a wake up call that unless we get more creative about our content, nobody is going to see it!

Clearly, Facebook is much more focused these days on encouraging companies to turn to paid advertising and promoted posts. But in the public sector where budgets are squeezed, the main focus has to be on organic reach, which is decreasing all the time.

We hear a lot about PR being the new ‘brand journalism’, and this is an excellent reminder of why that must be our focus.

Facebook has given us a fantastic way to build and participate in communities, reach stakeholders directly and develop positive relationships online. Now we need to work harder to make sure that the content we are producing is relevant, interesting, and of value to our audiences.

WhatsApp? I’d like to report some flytipping please…

Shropshire Council this week announced that they were going to start using WhatsApp as a way of communicating with residents.

Genius.

A brilliantly simple idea that had me thinking – ah, why didn’t we think of that?

Shropshire say they’re going to trial the service for four weeks and see how it goes. What I love is that residents can not only contact ‘the council’ on WhatsApp, they can also contact particular portfolio holders on the council’s Cabinet.

At a time when local authorities need to be thinking very seriously about channel shift, we need to make it as easy as possible for residents to communicate with us. It’s why we started using Facebook, Twitter and all the other social platforms – to be where the people are.

With 17 million users worldwide, lots of them are on WhatsApp.

It’s also a way that people can easily send ‘private’ messages to the council, or to the elected members that represent them, quickly, easily, for free, and without having to broadcast their message to the world via a Facebook comment or Tweet, if that isn’t what you want to do.

Maybe we might even encourage more of the ‘silent majority’ to communicate with us this way?

So, well done Shropshire Council. I’m really excited to hear about how you get on. And I’m sure that, if it works for you, many other councils will be following your lead very soon…

 

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